Gear Watch: Magnetic Locking Carabiners from Black Diamond

Black Diamond just unveiled its latest innovation in carabiner design: Magnetron Technology™. Essentially, Black Diamond has created auto-locking carabiners that use tiny magnets to prevent the gate from accidently coming open.

Here's how it works. A small steel insert is placed inside the nose of the carabiner. Two tiny locking arms are located on either side of the gate, with small magnets inside. When the gate is closed, magnetic attraction automatically snaps the two arms closed and effectively prevents the gate from popping open. When the gate is released, the magnets in the two arms repel each other, keeping them open wide enough to ensure that the gate smoothly closes without interference.

Traditional auto-lockers use either a screwgate or twistlock. Screwgates must be manually spun closed to lock the carabiner gate into position, which leaves them prone to human forgetfulness and error. Twistlocks are usually spring-loaded and automatically lock, but can be difficult to open, especially with wet, cold, or gloved hands.

The new Black Diamond carabiners open by squeezing the two locking arms and thus pulling them away from the magnet. This will probably make it easier to disengage with cold or wet hands (unlike a twistlock, no friction will be required to spin open the auto-locking mechanism), but it's unclear how easy, or difficult, this operation will be with gloves.

Two new carabiners are slated for release in July 2012 using this technology: the Magnetron GridLock and Magnetron RockLock. Prices have not yet been announced.

Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.